Meet “Enslaved” – my newest project a 1989 Nissan Hardbody

I have been into mini’s since high school. Like a lot of minitruckers I graduated in the 90s when these minis were the coolest things around. MiniTrucks got into my blood and became part of my life a long with a few issues. The fist issue was I was in high school and these trucks are not cheap. Well, they are not cheap when done correctly. Second issue was my skill set back then. I didn’t grow up welding or fabricating. It took me about 20 years of life to get the point that I could afford to build a proper mini truck and to develop the skills to build one to the level I wanted.

Sure, I have had and built or customized many cars… each one of those improved my skills getting me closer to where I wanted to be. I learn simply by doing thus I did. The B2200 was built primarily to show myself I could do a dependable V8 swap and set up a solid suspension to handle it. That truck was a great success regarding those goals.

This time I want to take it farther. I want to push my skills to the limit by building a show winning truck that is not only engine swapped and bagged but body dropped. The sheer amount of work required to body drop a truck has always amazed me.

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Is it really worth the work?

Well, these days I think it is worth it. I want a bodied truck laying rockers like so many before me.

Meet project Enslaved!

1989 Nissan Hardbody on a trailer

I found this 1989 Nissan Hardbody behind a friends shop. 140k miles, straight as can be and complete other then an engine. Who needs an engine anyway. The quality of this body is an A++. Im not sure if the paint has a single scratch. The tailgate has two small dings, that will be easy to fix later.

Inside of Nissan Hardbody

The interior could use some work, ok a lot of work. But its all there and the parts the sun destroyed can be replaced. I will deal with insides in a few months. For now we have to get down to that frame.

Nissan D21 with the fenders and doors off

As soon as I got her off the trailer I began the disassembly process. A stock floor body drop requires full access to the frame.

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As opposed to a traditional body drop where the floor of the cab is raised up inside the cab. Traditional body drops are considered easier by many but you lose 3″ of cab height. That is an issue if your over 5’6″. I find them uncomfortable to drive. Thus I am building a stock floor body drop where the frame is thinned down to lower the can closer to the ground.

Getting to the frame means a complete tear down of the truck. Body drops are not for the beginner. Next time your at a show and see a trucks rockers or bumpers sitting on the ground pause for a moment to consider how much work that really is.

Nissan Hardbody with the cab removed

The bed was actually unbolted the night I got the truck home but I could not lift it myself. Had to call in a few buddies to help set it to the side. I used the lift for the cab so that I can easily raise and lower the cab while I am cutting the frame to check for clearance.

nissan hardbody frame

Not bad progress for one full day and a few hours the night before. I did not go into details about tearing the truck down. As I see it, if you need help with that stage you probably don’t want to try this. The experienced readers would find the process boring.

I will point out that I was lucky. I did not break a single bolt. They were all pretty easy to remove. Nothing more then a little air. Starting with a clean vehicle really helps with the tear down process.

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Gordon French

Gordon French was born in Wyoming in 1978. He is married to Tiffany French. He has two children Halie and Zac. His first passion of course family with cars coming in a very close second.

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